Home > Server Types Defined: 5 Different Types of Servers and Their Roles

Server Types Defined: 5 Different Types of Servers and Their Roles

If your small business doesn’t already have a server, you may wonder whether you really need one. The answer depends on a number of factors that are unique to your business. If your company has a growing remote workforce and needs to secure access and additional storage for email, that’s a good use case for getting a server. This concept is referred to as defining a server’s role which is a single server’s dedicated job to handle certain large data sets. This process can be compared to considering hiring someone for a new role in a busy department. Before making that hefty salary investment, you evaluate the department’s bandwidth to see if resources can be reallocated elsewhere in your organization. If not, you determine what exact skillset is needed now and in the future for that department’s success and find it!

5 Different Types of Servers Explained

Nowadays, plenty of things can be done in the cloud, but a dedicated server allows you to have more control of your own data and workflows. Let’s take a look at the 5 most common roles small businesses assign to their servers.

Virtualization Server

In server virtualization, a software application is used to divide a single physical server into multiple unique, individualized virtual servers. Each of those virtual servers can run its own independent operating system. A non-virtualized dedicated server typically only uses around 15% of its resources during normal operation. So the key advantage of server virtualization is that you can fully utilize your physical resources without investing in more hardware.

Within the virtual server environment, there are three types of virtualization:

  • Full virtualization: Through the use of a hypervisor (software that communicates directly with a physical server’s disk space and CPU), virtual servers are kept separate and the physical server’s resources are monitored and relayed to virtual servers as needed.
  • Paravirtual machine model: Instead of virtual units operating individually, the entire network works together as a single cohesive unit.
  • Virtualization at the OS level: No hypervisor is required, and all the servers run on the same operating system as the physical server.

Active Directory Server

Active Directory (AD) is a proprietary directory service developed by Microsoft that runs on Windows Server. The Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) stores all the directories and manages the interaction between the user and the domain. It also verifies access when a user signs in and controls which users have access to specific resources. It even manages group policies to provide different positions within the company with different levels of access.

AD has many security benefits and provides a single point from which the network administrators can manage and secure their resources. The three main benefits of AD DS are:

  • Resources and security administration are centralized.
  • A single sign-on provides access to network resources anywhere on the server.
  • Resource location is simplified and users can easily configure the scope of their searches.

In a multiple-server environment, AD can improve productivity by making it faster and easier to locate necessary resources.

File Server

A file server offers an accessible but secure storage place for files. As the central server in a computer network, it provides file access (or parts of them) to authorized, connected users. In this environment, the server administrator creates the rules regarding the specific access rights of users. This means determining which files can be seen or opened by certain users or user groups and defining which data can only be viewed, added, edited or deleted.

When connected to the internet, file servers allow users to:

  • Access files both via the local network and through remote access.
  • Store and manage files according to their access levels.
  • Use the file server as a storehouse for programs that need to be accessed by multiple network participants.
  • Backup important files and data to the server.

Exchange Server

An exchange server is another Microsoft product that is both a mail server and a calendar server. It only runs on the Windows Operating System and is an effective way to improve productivity by sharing multiple calendars, scheduling meetings between users in different locations and allowing users to move onto the cloud when the time is right. With an exchange server, employees can securely access services like emails, voice mails, instant messaging, video calls and texts from the computing device of their choice, regardless of their location.

Web Server

The web server is the most common type of server found in businesses today. A web server environment is composed of both software and hardware that leverages HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol) and other protocols to respond to client requests made over the world wide web. Its main job is to deliver web pages that are requested by users on the internet or via an intranet. When a user looks for content on the web server, the software is accessed through its unique domain name, the browser requests it using HTTP; the software accepts that request, finds the content and sends it back to the browser to display for the user.

Choosing the Right Server for Your Business

To choose the right server for your business needs, you need to consider which applications you plan to use then research the server specs to see which ones best fit your needs. Aventis Systems can help you choose the one that is best for your business needs and can even help you build your own server to provide the customization needed to suit your daily operations. With Aventis Systems’ Custom Server Builder, you can get the server configuration perfectly tailored to meet the needs of your business applications and storage requirements. If you have any questions about which server type is right for your business, or how to use the Custom Server Builder, you can give us a call at 1.855.AVENTIS to speak with an IT expert!